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CHICAGO MARATHON

Expo: 

This expo is located at McCormick Place, a massive convention center off of Lake Michigan.  Luckily, I got there not long after it opened and was able to take part in a mini ceremony they had with cake and what-not to open the expo! It was a lot of fun.  Keep in mind this may have been strictly because it was the race’s 40th anniversary. 

There are tons of booths at this expo.  Local running clubs, great discounts, lots of giveaways, great speakers, and photo-ops!  Not only are most known gear brands represented, but local companies and stores with Chicago running gear are involved! Since this is a World Majors race, there is also a large section for World Majors events & info, which is also quite cool! 

One of the sponsors is Goose Island Beer Company so they had a fun little section with a school bus & free beer (21 and up).  Due to the size of the race, I’d say to get there quickly once it opens in order to steer clear of long lines! Overall, this is quite an amazing expo! 

To see its location check it out here: http://www.mccormickplace.com

 

 

 

Parking: 

This was a destination race for me, so I did not have to park! Chicago is a walkable city, and as with most big cities, parking can get expensive, so I suggest taking the L down to an area near Grant Park or Butler Field (the start/end areas), or getting a hotel nearby to walk!  Speaking of hotels, make sure to book well in advance. The Marathon usually gives discounts to runners staying at certain hotel chains!

 

Course: 

To my knowledge, this race typically has the same course.  It is very flat, which was a nice change for me in my race choices.  If you are looking to PR (personal record), drop your name in the hat, because the only “hill” is literally at mile 26, and you can see the finish line, which means you do not even notice it - at least I didn’t!

The course brings you through every aspect of the city. It is really an awesome feeling - seeing so much of Chicago all in one run!  There is so much beautiful scenery, architecture, and culture!  Be sure to keep in mind the size of this race.  You will undoubtedly run into larger crowds throughout this race, more so in the beginning.  If you are claustrophobic, this may not be the best choice for you! If you don’t mind crowds.  Otherwise, I highly recommend the Chicago Marathon!

 

  

 

Crowd Support:

WOW!  To date, this is the best crowd support I have experienced!  The spirit of a marathon was real!  The course runs into Chinatown around the time most runners hit their “wall", and the crowd is incredibly enthusiastic!  There are so many strangers all cheering for you, and they don’t just yell “go runner, go!”—they read your name and cheer for you individually!  Sometimes that happens near the end when there are not tons of people everywhere, but nothing like this!  The crowds lined the bridges, streets, canals, and balconies three or four people deep! Support like this is definitely one for the books!

                       l

 

Timing Chip:

This was my one (and only) complaint!  My loved ones knew I was aiming for a PR, and my tracker stopped.  It said I was stuck at the 5k, and did not pick up until the half marathon timing mat.  This left me distracted, because I was getting continuous messages asking if I was okay, all because the chip system was off. 

Now, I was able to return a text to one person and tell them to spread the word, and once I hit the half marathon mark all of my splits showed up.  However, it was in my head that it wasn’t logging me for ten full miles! I was questioning if it was going to DQ (disqualify) me, but I knew I ran the entire way!  I smile so much at the cameras that I’m sure there was proof! 

 I knew between that and my Garmin—that there was proof, but my mind frantically worried—with the buildings messing up watch GPS.  Needless to say, I was unsure of what it would say for the beginning of the race when we were deep within the city!  I may have nearly shed an emotional tear in fear of it not capturing me!  However, all was well—it was capturing everything! It simply had a lag, and I feel sure it was because of the amount of people running!

 

Bling:

The bling is pretty hefty and gorgeous!  I am writing this months later, and it is still hanging proudly on my desk away from all my other medals.  There are several local Fleet Feet stores that will engrave your medal for free following the race! You’ve never heard of Fleet Feet?? Don’t fret, this is their Chicago site! http://www.fleetfeetchicago.com.  Clearly, I am a fan of the bling!

                                                                

After Party:

I am a social runner, so I love to hang out with others post race and have a beer while we discuss hardships, joyful moments, feats, goals, and PR’s.  I did JUST that!  I laid down on the lawn with some really amazing people, listened to some great music, and drank a few beers!

Medical: 

Have no fear, they are everywhere!  EMS (emergency medical services), fire department, police department, SWAT, and volunteers were everywhere I looked!  This day ended up being a bit warm (okay, okay, in the North they say it’s “hot” but EHHHHH).  That being said, there were also volunteers with sponges and ice everywhere along with the fire departments aerial trucks which sprayed over the sunny areas!

 

Afterthoughts:

I loved it!  I conquered a goal I had been long determined to catch —here!  Note this is a very large race, which means you could meet anyone! How incredible is that?  Throughout the years, I’ve met some of the best people in my life at races, and this one was no different!  Overall, it was positively memorable.  If I didn’t have so many other races I wanted to do, I would do this annually —it really is that great!

This is a race you can either qualify for, run for charity and raise money, or enter into a lottery!  If you’re interested in the future but not sure you are fast enough or know enough people to raise the money, check out lotto dates at the main marathon webpage listed below. Lotteries are typically held in the fall after the race.

https://www.chicagomarathon.com

 

Love, Light & Hugs Always,

Lay

 
Cape Cod Marathon Recap:
 
"I've learned that finishing a marathon isn't just an athletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.
 
Expo: I cannot give my best for this expo, it is definitely the worst “expo” I have been to yet to date.  However, I have done races with a simple BIB pick up (which was the same case scenario here, except in a really odd way in a tiny gymnasium.  Nothing really, just nothing.  So if this is your first big race, do NOT (PLEASE) do not feel like this is all that expo’s have to offer.
 
 
Parking: Tons of parking, easily accessible to athletes and supporters alike.  
 
Course: The course description, well they fib, like a lot.  Miles 6-24 were “rolling hills” except some were hills on top of hills. If your body is trained for this type of hill you shall be fine, otherwise, this will be your big challenge! Keep in mind, I have warned you!
 
 
Crowd Support: This town is so tiny, quaint, and charming.  That being said, for being such a small town, the crowd support was great. Definitely lots of alone time on this course, but with the sheer BEAUTY of this course, you don’t mind per se.  It is an OPEN course.  The race crew sets this up, but does not mention that it may be more like a long game of frogger.  Run at your own risk! (I kid a little) The police, state and local were VERY helpful, and I tip my hat to them for it! Someone placed painted inspirational rocks all along the course with words of encouragement, so I love the SPIRIT of that.  The course for most runners I feel, overall, is HILLY, and that is all they have to say.  Personally,  I feel like bring on a few hills and booty plumping, especially when its as beautiful as this course, and in such a charming small town.
 
 
Timing Chip: I feel as if this time may be off, and they start all runners as the CANNON (Yes, a cannon goes off to start the race), because I had two timers going for myself (neither ever paused) and they have my time nearly 2 minutes over what I have on both of my timers, so just remember that smaller town races and the timing may not be what you want for a BQ (Boston Qualify)! Also, lets never say that I suggest this race for a BQ!
 
Medal (Bling): Cute, fun, and fitting for the area! There is stained glass in the half and full medals.  There is also a relay (I feel bad for those two middle runners getting the bad luck of the draw and hills ha!) but the Relay medals are super cute, 5 combined tiny medals to create one, similar to the Ragnar relay medal, just much smaller. The half was a fish with a stained glass background.  The full is a seashell with a stained glass background. I quite like this medal! 
 
 
After Party: Personally, some of the after math food items were odd, but it’s also to be expected from this quaint and charming small town.  It’s got local personality! There is a small beer tent with 5 local beers, “New England Clam Chowder”, Cider donuts, bananas, Ocean Spray (real fitting) juices, clif bars, and water.  OH, and medals, do not forget the medals.  There was a local band inside of the beer tent as well, this added to the fun atmosphere! Enjoyable, for sure!!  
 
 
Afterthoughts: This is odd, I know, but my favorite moment of this race and experience, was sitting down on a main street along the finish line, watching my waiter head my way with my tasty beer in hand, then noticing that there was a trail of the last few finishers, headed down the last curve.  So to my own surprise, the spirit of a marathon caught up with me, and I jumped up from my patio seat, and ran in, to join these kind folks.  The course had previously been shut, but the race crew was still waiting for them at the end.  This, this is the spirit of a marathon, those who have a spirit to finish, and do it in style. I love it, and cannot wait for my next! 
 
 
XXOO,
 
Lay

Runs, runners, running, and whatnot…

 

 
 
Hey y’all! I have been really wanting to write a series on well, runs, runners, running, and whatnot…so, that is exactly what this is.  Later on, I will be adding race re-caps, runners etiquette, social VS. solo running, gadgets, social media, what to look for’s, and races (or series) to be on the look out for! However, to begin this series I want to touch a tad on my last few races, and things I’ve noticed that we need to look for, as runners, when picking out the perfect race.  Whether you are looking for the perfect first fun run race, or the perfect Boston Qualifying race. 
 
So lets get started! My most recent races are Rock and Roll Los Angeles, The Louisiana Marathon, Cowtown Marathon Series, Dallas Skyline, and Rock and Roll Chicago.  So I’ll touch on each race a bit as a re-cap and fill y’all in on my likes and dislikes! DISCLAIMER: Every race, and every event has a LOT of hard work put into it, so I am not intentionally downplaying, promoting, or picking on any races!  Each individual race has literal blood sweat and tears put into it, to make it work for us as runners and as spectators! Volunteers give so much of their time for us despite what the race is, or is not, so give them a high five and a thank you when you pass by next time, and everytime!
 
-Rock & Roll Los Angeles This particular series, is always a blast, and well run!  
 
 
 
 
  -Expo:  This expo is amazing, it has so many booths.  It is full of free goodies, discounts, and free advice!  ASPCA was the charity for this race, and they had ASPCA photo booths, tons of other California race booths, energy drinks/gels, door prizes, race and post-race attire, shoes, other running gear, and pilsners (because a pilsner for each bigger race I run, has become a must!…Not that I’m promoting alcohol, you can always mix up a nice pom juice, vanilla, lemonade, & coconut water drink in them too!) Of course you will get your packet-pick up with Bib, shirt, pins, timing chip, and whatnot!
-Parking: Honestly, I took uber.  This was a travel race for me, and with no vehicle or early bird friends here, uber was my best option.  Most uber drivers in a city like LA know the city well, and despite road blockages, or traffic for the race, will be able to get ya quite close.  However, parking for the expo was relatively easy to get in and out of, low priced, and spacious at the convention center.
-Race Crowd: Amazing, down right amazing.  Not much else can be said about this.  A little early morning does not scare the city of LA! Start to finish, the course was pretty full of cheering spectators, there was one area or two that lacked people, and RNR added bands in those particular spots! November Project LA, and UnitedLA had massive groups of folks that were cheering everyone on! This city was so alive! OH, and this race happens to be the biggest halloween half marathon, so lots of fun outfits along the course!
-Medical: Medical tents were in and around the course, which makes this gal one happy little runner! =) It’s a MUST. (You will soon see why I feel strongly about this.)
-Post Race: So, RNR is wicked cool for many reasons, but the post race PARTY is a blast. Always a fun headlining band at the end with beer! (again, not that I’m promoting, but, ya know, just good knowledge to have) Sir Mix-a-lot was the headliner for this particular race.  I’m an 80’s baby, and well this, this was right up my alley, he’s still so entertaining and spunky! Also, incase you just couldn’t decide about the post race finisher attire at the expo, they’ve got it here too! (You know, the myth, do not purchase a “finisher” item until you have finished the race)  So go ahead and grab that at the end if ya choose, because they have a nice booth for it! They also engrave medals if you wish, no cheating now, they’ll check ya bib number and timing chip. ;) Also, quite similar to the expo, all of the nutrition booths are at the end with sambazon, bananas, cranberries, bars, water, dunkin donuts (this is sort of pre and post race actually), chocolate milk (my fav), and a few other odds and ends to refuel with.  Overall, pretty fab!
-Bling: Nice, thick & heavy,  Again, engraving available for an extra charge post-race.  Being halloween, this one is a sparkly little pumpkin. I quite like it! 
-Photos: Post race Bling & Finish line courtesy of MarathonFoto
 
 
-The Louisiana Marathon — Mixed emotions
 
 
 
 
 
-Expo:  This expo is also pretty fab.  The river center was full of booths, and lots of orthopedic, chiropractic, and trigger point booths.  Still, free goodies, discount cards, and a stage for free advice.  (I mean honestly, what runner does not want extra advice from an expert?)  Community Coffee sets up a pretty big area, and this is Mardi Gras season y’all, so they have their mardi gras coffee out (its vanilla with some cinnamon basically, but oooo so tasty!) If you are not familiar with Louisiana and CC’s coffee, well try it out while you are here, you may fall in love! Booths of paddle boards and kayaks for the Lake at LSU, fleet feet Baton Rouge, several running gadget booths like redfox, gulf coast & southern city races, and several Etsy like booths. (Ya know, the fun race medal holders, and handmade items!) This particular expo has a large section for race gear, dang near anything you want with The Louisiana Marathon on it, of course my choice is the….drum roll….the pilsner glass! This expo was great, I may have gone to it two days! =)
-Parking: Baton Rouge is my home, well, not that I live there anymore, but it was my home for quite some time. So I was pleasantly surprised when I realized how great the parking was set up downtown.  Race & expo alike.  The expo, was easy to park in the parking garage next door, I mean its $5, and really not crowded. Race day, the garages did fill up, but the riverfront had tons of spaces & lots that were mostly free.  Only thing is a warning that it is a downtown area, so watch out for one way traffic. 
-Race Crowd: Well, they are not quite as energetic in the morning as some others, but boy, the areas that people filled, they really filled.  I kept hearing that the race crowd was like LSU game days, or Baton Rouge parades, so my expectations were pretty high.  That being said, I was a bit disappointed, but only because of what I was expecting.  Comparing to other races, makes this crowd pretty loud and proud. Many areas had no spectators, or very few.  Again, the areas that they filled, the folks were so lively and passing out jello shots, king cake, abita beer, and beignets! (True Louisiana style) The charity for this race was runners choice of several, but one was children in wheel chairs, being pushed so they got to experience racing as well.  Which I sort of love!
-Medical: DISCLAIMER—LONG SECTION…Read only if you please (and have the time!).  This, this I have procrastinated writing about for well….7 months now. This was one of the worst experiences of my running career.  Note, I highly suggest that ANY race you EVER sign up for, HAS medical, onsite, at multiple posts throughout the course, and if they are running/cycling through the course, even better.  This race has none, yes, that is what you read, NONE.  Anybody heard the joke about Louisiana being one of the worst states int he country, or having ridiculous roads? The road jokes are very on point.  Remember those wheel chairs I mentioned? The folks screaming for king cake and jello shots? Well, between all that clutter in the first neighborhood, I busted it, and by it, I mean I ate some serious gravel, with my hip.   Quite simply, I wasn’t looking at my steps, stepped into a massive pothole, rolled my ankle, but instantly realized I could keep going because that ankle is pretty stable.  I went to pick that foot up for my next step, and the edge of that particular pot hole was similar to that of a crater, so the outer rim pulls inward, it clung to my toe, and with my motion and force slammed my hip into the ground before I could get much of my hands down in front. It was horrific! No other explanation, except horrific.  No runner plans to fall, or ever thinks that it will be them, but I was that gal, at 1.7-1.8 miles in, on the ground.  I immediately got up, and picked up my pace, but my race belt kept coming off and dropping to the ground loosing all of its contents.   With each step I’d have to turn around and bend back down to pick it up.  Each step was excruciating, I was praying and searching for medical.  It was cold in January, so I had on yoga pants, a wick tank, a hoodie, gloves, and a buff. So the force of the fall punctured through my double layered pocket hoodie, my wick tank, my rolled over at the waist yoga pants, and my race belt.  When I say punctured I mean all the way through ALL of it, and down through to my hip bone.  (Yes I’ve got gruesome pictures to prove this, and the months of healing as well.)  At some point,  I realized my race belt was shredded, which is why it wouldn’t stay on, so I wrapped it around my palm, and held on to it, text my friend to help come me and find me by mile 2.5-3 because I’d still not seen a single medic.  Many offered to stop and help, (including several BRFD that happened to be running as well, so thank you to all of you), but I wanted to just keep running through seeking out an aid station.  I soon realized that with every step, my clothing was rubbing into my puncture wound and road rash.  So I ended up rolling my pants down and tops up.  Then when everyone began to stare I realized that I was bleeding out, and dripping pretty badly.  My friend came to find me, and jump in trying to be sure I was okay.  While I knew I was not okay, I still knew that there HAD to be an aid station soon, despite that by the time she was able to find me, it was mile 10ish.  I guess my mind had a natural assumption that a race WOULD have it on course, and there was absolutely no way, that there was no medical station, despite the mileage I was at. At this point, you just finish, right?  It was 32 degrees that morning, so maybe that was my saving grace, the cold air hitting it without stopping.  Let me tell you that AFTER I fell, I ran the next 11 miles in a pain that made me fight back tears with every single step.  I made it to the end and had to SEARCH OUT medical attention.  Walked around, finally a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist saw it, and asked if I’d gotten help.  At this point I hated to be rude, but I stated that if I could find one, I would have already.  He saw me, and had other members in the tent help stretch me out.  He asked what mile it was at, and then suddenly realized that I had been dealing with that for almost 2 hours, and that I should have bowed out.  I kept running, not only to finish a race I set out to do, but because there was NO help, NONE.  THIS ladies and gentlemen, is a poorly run race decision.  Sure, nobody ever wishes their runners to get injured, but the reality of it, is that we do. I will urge you, to NEVER, and I mean EVER, sign up for a race without checking out the course for medical.  Later on, I discovered not only did I have a wicked nasty puncture wound, road rash, a bruised hip bone, and horrible pain, but also a fracture in my hip bone itself.  Not to mention the pain, recovery, hip tightness, and LOVELY scar I’ve still got today.  I am not writing this to bash on them, but as their race doubles and triples in size, this is something that needs to be fixed, like yesterday. Also, if you are a part of this race crew, and reading this, I have no wish other than corrective criticism to benefit its future participants. 
-Post Race: Abita (beer) truck, jambalaya, gumbo, cajun dancing, band, fun booths, and CC’s again.  Alas, I was in entirely too much pain to even begin to remotely enjoy this. 
-Bling:  The bling is super cute and typical Louisiana Style with the lamp posts and signs that are commonly known to be in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  They however are not very  sturdy, but still quite unique and fun! One to display for sure!
-Race:  One LAST (I promise) thing I noticed at this particular race, was the corrals.  Note, I was running late (my fault), but it was not easy to spot my pace group, as there were NO corrals. The colors of the pacing groups and finishing times were not typical race fashion.  Not a make or break, but 100% not clearly marked. 
-Photo: Expo =) 
 
 
-Cowtown — Fantastic Experience
 
 
 
 
-Expo: Fun, fun, and more fun! They had a big Longhorn for a photo op! How fun is that? Tons of free goodies, snacks, gels, discount coupons, beers, and gear.  Luke’s Locker along with the runner shop (Dallas Fort-Worth local running stores) had massive amounts of sale items, booths for gadgets like Redfox, hippie runner headbands, local health food stores, free advice, and then again an area of Cowtown race and post race gear.  Of course I got the pilsner glass. A fun, very country, expo, I spent hours there! 
-Parking: Two or three main parking garages were honestly all that there were.  Otherwise, park a ways off, and walk. (You are a runner after all, this should be easy!)  They had lots a few blocks away that were open for parking as well, but if you are not familiar with the area they can be difficult to find. Beware, when you walk through the stock yards of Fort Worth, watch your step, this is cattle country. Race day, my uncle had a parking pass I could borrow, so my life was uber simple that morning!
-Race Crowd: WHOA, this city has some incredibly lively early birds! They were lined up several folks deep for basically the entire race.Screaming, yelling, carrying on, working out, cycling on the side, and passing out treats like you are their own.  Never have I seen this type of crowd support.  Those hills, yes spectators really stack up thick over the hills to cheer ya on! Absolutely perfect! 
-Medical: AH-MAZING.  Not only are they every 3  miles, they are also cycling or running through the course.  I smiled at the thought, over and over again.  Its saturated, in the best way possible. This race, for me, was all about having a GOOD experience, I did not care about time or anything in between, just to have fun.  So the medical everywhere made my heart so joyous it was doing flip flops! I also PR’d here. =)
-Post Race: Lots of fun little goodies in the barns (yup thats what I said!) Bananas, and other treats! No concerts, but just enjoyable! Plus the stock yards are next door! So take your pick! 
-Bling: It’s a belt buckle! Super cute, and it spins! Decent medal quality as well, no engraving though! They give you a fun little jacket and (2nd) shirt at the end as well! (Yup, two shirts, jacket, and medal.  Now, thats some swag!)
-Photos: Post race stretching, Expo, and my marathoner Uncle out showing some family support! (Thanks again for coming out to cheer me on!)
 
 
-Dallas Skyline —This is a smaller race, but still a good one!
 
 
 
 
 
-Expo: No expo.  Packet pick-up at local run-on stores (Run Project).  Goodies in bag included Tech shirt, knee socks (more like calve socks for most folks lol), sweat headband, coupon/discount code to Run On stores, Bib, and timing chip.
-Parking: Parking is pretty horrendous, not going to lie, there are two smaller parking lots (yes it’s a smaller race), but everyone ends up in a few neighborhoods behind the start area, which may not have been the best areas for parking. So get there early! 
-Race Crowd: This is a smaller race.  The start and finish lines had folks, and several random groups throughout the course, but really not much, just you, the hills, and that skyline view. 
-Medical: Yes, yes, and yes.  Medical was available every few miles.  Again, making my heart do flips of happiness.
-Post Race: Fun, a local brewery (Lakewood) brought out two new beers, and they made a fun beer garden.  You could sit and enjoy the company of others, and have a brewsky, or two, or three! No bands, but they do have a few little fun tents of local shops giving out goodies! This was really good for a smaller local race. I am impressed.
-Bling: The bling here is legit, its a decent medal, and rather large.  My only objection is that the 5K & 10K folks, got the exact same medal as the half marathon finishers. I do say that any runner is a runner, but I also feel as if someone who finished a half or full marathon does not want someone that ran a 5K to EARN the same medal. Just my purgative. 
-PR….just saying, I went sub 2 here!  
-Photos: Post race  beer & Bling, that final sub 2, and post race smiles! 
 
 
-Rock & Roll Chicago   — Did I mention this is my biggest and favorite frunner city?? 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
-Expo: Expo I had initially expected to be similar to Los Angeles, but it really did not compare much.  This expo was set up a little differently, because Chicago has such a unique vibe, as a city, and quite a culture for fitness. Chicago, is proud of its name, so its stamped loud and proud at the expo.  This made it fun for me, as a travel race. No free advice (that I noticed) here.  However, they had so many booths.  From power bar, nuun, Mid-West races, hippie runner headbands, vitamins, gels, local running stores for gear, brooks fit stop, garmin, lots of headphones, TEETH WHITENING (yah girl, smile for that MarathonFoto thats aiming towards ya!) Kombucha, Chia, zip fizz, of course bigger sponsors like Humana and Toyota.  Speaking of toyota, the set-up they had was SO much fun, You get to do something different in each vehicle you get into, and get a prize for doing so!  I will not share what all the vehicles are (b/c that removes the fun, and its pretty fab!) I will tell you that one vehicle lets you leave motivational videos, that is on a jumbotron around mile 10-12. It’s pretty great.  Fun photo booths, as well as a money machine, so get back some of that race fee and join in on the fun! Of course you get your goodie bag, with Bib, tech Shirt, timing chip, and countless other things (Smarty pants vitamins, sports laundry detergent samples, coupons, and extra forms of fuel.  They’ve also got a medical booth, promoting that you insert your medical information on the back of your Bib, and explaining where they will be stations throughout the course.  Never to disappoint, RNR has a massive section of RNRCHI items and gear, and never fear, I got the pilsner glass. =)  My only odd thought was that the fun photo op stops were really in that area BEFORE you grab your bib, which I feel like I want my bib in that picture.  All the same, the McCormick Convention Center was really full!
-Parking: Again, a travel race for me.  I actually walked two blocks to cloud gate, met up with lots of #werunsocial buddies, and walked on over another block or two, right into the corrals. I have not been a part of parking here, BUT I can tell you that word of mouth is to take the train (The L).  Parking downtown Chicago can be difficult, but you can always jump off the train in millennium park and be right where you need to be, with zero hassle.  
-Race Crowd: Not as many early birds as I thought there would be.  The runners were SO  alive, this was an obvious vibe throughout the entire course.  The spectators were thick in many areas, but the others were a bit bare. Overall, this city just gives off such a good race feeling.
-Medical: Gosh, I”m a dork when THIS excites me, it does though.  Medical at the start line, every other mile throughout the course, running along the course, as well as a big tent at the finish.  In fact, I stopped to help an injured runner around 12.5-12.7 (Garmin is off between all these buildings, so excuse the calculations), and I was able to quickly grab the gentleman the assistance he needed. The responder ran to him, without hesitation.  Again, my heart doing flips about this. 
-Post Race: Okay, so this is a bit unfair, because you see, there was this wicked nasty storm that forced a nice chunk of runners into downtown for shelter.  However, once the storm passed, everyone was out in the park enjoying the beer tent, Echosmith as the headlining band, merchandise tent, re-fuel goodies, and medal engraving if you wish.  Quite similar to Los Angeles in this fashion, just seemed a little more alive in my opinion.
-Bling: Fun, RNR never disappoints.  This medal is the ferris wheel from Navy Pier. (The bean is The Chicago Marathon bling, so that staple is taken!) The medal is pretty heavy duty, and I’m excited to display it on my rack back home! 
-Photos: Expo, #WeRunSocial meet-up at Cloud Gate (The Bean), and Post race Concert fun after the storm #wetpoodle
 
 
 
So thats my first re-cap, I know folks have been asking for it.  Yes, I will add these reviews to Bibrave soon as well! I’ve been procrastinating writing about my injury, because I don’t want to speak out of anger, but from a place that will help make the race a better race to run for its future participants. So there ya go, edition one of Runs, runners, running, and whatnot! 
 
Until next time!!
 
XXOO,
 
Lay 
Dear body image, here we go again.  
 
How does our own personal view affect us? Do you have a positive or a negative view about your own physical traits and body? Why? Is it something you feel deep within you? OR is it something society says is right or wrong? Why? Please, I beg you, ask yourself that.  
 
So lets begin with the why’s, shall we?  Society places so much on every individual, as to what is physically expected, and/or acceptable. So what is acceptable, and why? I’ve got NO idea, because society will bash you for SOMETHING, no matter what you do, who you are, what your physical traits are, what your body is capable of, or your appearance. So why do we focus on a battle we will NEVER win? Essentially, it would help us “fit in” right? So what exactly are we trying to fit into? A society based on hate and judgement? BLEH, thats all I can say, is BLEH! So STOP, just STOP, like now! Society expects us to be 24/36/32, but are you? I’m not.  Do you know anyone that is? I don’t. We operate on ourselves and inject ourselves to keep our “youth”, but our body is a symbol of our life, and what we have lived through.  So you want to, not, have a story to tell?  I am 28, I have grey hair, crows feet, sun spots, and cellulite.  Those are all “negative” right? Lets work through those in a different light.  
 
Grey hair is a personal symbol of stress and/or age, but more so stressful times (I’ve noticed mine come and/or grow during stressful seasons).  Here is the thing about my grey (unattractive at 28, but began at 26) hair, it’s a symbol of getting through a tough era, one in which I may not have felt confident about getting through.  TRIUMPH.  Next, crows feet, I smile, A LOT. Simple,  I have had so many incredible, happy, fun,and amazing moments throughout my life.  If I didn’t have crows feet, I’d worry about my personal happiness. Sun spots, what can I say, I’m a child of fun in the sun (and I’m a runner) outdoor enthusiast, because guess what, sunny beautiful days, also, make me happy. (Note, that I do always wear sunscreen, I do not promote or suggest tanning beds, or sunburns etc)  Cellulite, well cellulite is a sign of growth, sure its fat cells, but we again, have all had our ups and downs in life, and with that life (and weight) will always fluctuate, but guess what? I’m alive, and very well to talk about it!   So, with that in mind, what are your flaws in the view of our society? Is there something about them that is more so related to a good or happy thing, a story if you will? 
 
Now that we are over that hurdle, lets look at why society is so judgmental.  These stereotypes and views, are typically coming from a place of judgement.  Is it because they themselves, are not where they want themselves to be?  Keep this question in mind!  The Christian gal in me, will always say, that it is not our place to judge one another, but that it is our place to love, comfort, and support one another.  Never to hate the sinner, but the sin. These places of judgement may be jealousy, or they may be disgust.  Yet, if you look at this person, inside and out, do you see something you would disapprove in them as well? Probably so, if nothing else, then you may just feel the simple disappointment that you were judged by this person.  None of us are perfect, so why should we shame those around us into feeling emotionally unsteady and uncomfortable in their own skin? We should not.  
 
Society views have turned into something that are black and white, whereas life should be simplistic, black and white, it still never is.  We all constantly live in the grey areas of life, and thats where we learn to thrive. So we shame one another for not fitting into some physical cookie cutters.  Why, someone please tell me why? None of us are model size, but who said that model size was “perfect” anyways? What IS model size/shape/color? Then we go from one extreme to the other and shame the “models". The only reason someone should be considering a model, is a role model on right and wrong for our society, and coming generations. 
 
 Why are we shaming anyone about their bodies.  Instead we should realize our bodies strength and capability.   So, in turn, think about what you, yourself, are capable of.  If you are unsure of what exactly you are capable of, go find something that scares you a bit, and make a small incremental goal, to get there.  You will soon find out what your body is capable of, and the views of society and shamefulness you may feel, just may wash away. This is a challenge, and I cannot wait to hear all about it!
 
XXOO,
 
Lay
 
#BeBoldBeProudBeIncredible

Hey y'all I'm back with an emergency contact update. (I know, I know, don't get too excited…) ?

 

 
Well the update is...that there is no update ? haha! Of course I have been on several more dates, and I have also had a race (Dallas Skyline Half Marathon)? since my original post on dating and racing. However, if you will recall I had three stipulations and let's just say, that the one person that asked me on an essential blind date post race, he did not meet two and maybe even three of the “qualifications.” I really feel as if I was not being too picky with the qualities I'm seeking, but maybe I am? Do you guys have input on that?
 
 So lets add to this scenario, my 10 year reunion was this weekend.  Let's just say that I am one of very few without some sort of significant other. There is also the fact that I was asked if I was a lesbian.  The answer to that is no! No, absolutely not!! However, every time I was asked this question, my response was "well I have been on so many horrible, yet comical dates, that I could write a book, and that sort of makes me want to become one". Jokingly of course!  So then there's the questions like "well why?" "Why are you single?"  "Why haven't you been married?” "Do you really not have kids?”

 

 

What do I say to this? No, and I’m not sure? That is the truth. Should I retort back things like  "Am I too picky?” “Why? Do you think there Is there something wrong with me?”  "Am I too something?"  (In order to understand that reference you have to go and read my article on too’s and body image. It’s pretty fab if I do say so myself!) Overall, I think it has been decided that I should write a book on all of the horrible yet comical dates that I have been on. I do believe it would make quite a good comedy! It is all in past right?? Or wait is there more to come? (YIKES)

 

 
Here is the thing I don't mind about bad dates, if nothing else it's a little bit of humor I can look back on later on in life, and I always laugh. Also, it’s another lesson on what I do and do not want in or for my life. 
 
Somehow, it's events like this reunion, that remind me that life is kind of like a race.  You always want to have an emergency contact. I mean at a race, you know, in case you wind up hurt, which hopefully never will happen, but in the instance that it does! It is just like that, because in life you want someone to be there to support you, or to see things in your life happen, be a part of it, to be happy with you, by your side through the this journey. 
 
Despite everyone else being married with kids, engaged, divorced, or a single parent, I still love my life the way that it is.  Even though it is different from everyone else, I know my passions (while I’m sure I will gain many more along the way), and I have figured out what I love in life. I don't feel like I've missed out on anything in particular.  Yet, I feel like I have plenty of time to live my life to the fullest. All the same, it would be nice to find someone that has passion for life, and to share my journey with!

 

So, the update again, is that there really is no update.  My next two races may change that, or they may not, or I may find Mr. Right at Whole Foods tomorrow, ? who knows!  That being said,  I'm going to go ahead and lay my current race schedule out on the line to my social friends, my hometown friends,  college friends,  coworkers, and everybody else out there and follows me (PS I’m IG @laylaynoel if you were not aware) and/or everyone that reads my posts.

 

Current Race Schedule:
-Rock 'n' Roll Chicago in July
-The Cape Cod Marathon in October.

 

I cannot wait for my next blind (race) date! To any of you concerned with my safety in a blind date situation, I always have friends at my races so have no fear! 

 

XXOO,

Lay

 

#ISOEMERGENCYCONTACT

The Too's
 
What exactly are the "too’s" you ask? It is too much of something, which I can explain better using a bit of symbolism.  
 
The RUNNER in me sees the "too’s” as:
 
  • Too much
  • Too fast
  • Too soon
 
These "too's" lead to injury and inability to run.
  
The YOGI in me sees the "too's" as:
 
  • Too stiff
  • Too inflexible
  • Too tight 
 
These "too's" lead to ultimate failure when trying to nail a pose. 
 
The CHRISTIAN in me sees the "too's" as:
 
  • Too much sin
  • Too much negative 
  • Too stressful

 

These "too's" lead me to question my faith.
 
 
So that’s what the “too’s” are. Different for everyone, but ever present. So let's take those "too’s" and think about it in relation to our body image, shall we?
 
Body Image-noun; 
1-the subjective picture or mental image of one's own body.
2-an intellectual or idealized image of what one'sbody is or should be like that is sometimes misconceived.
3-a subjective picture of one's own physical appearance established both by self-observation and by noting the reactions of others
 
The "too’s" of body image, are you ready?This could get lengthy, but here goes. 
 
Our BODY IMAGE sees the "too's" as:
 
too skinny, too fat, too curvy, too short, too tall, too fragile, too lumpy, too light, too dark, too square, too round, too jiggly, too wide, too thin, too boney, too big, too little, AND overall, TOO IMPERFECT.
 
How many of these do you get called by society? Better yet, how many of these do you claim about yourself? Does it affect and obscure your own view of yourself? I bet it does. Do you ever feel negatively about it? I do. 
 
When I openly admit this, people frown upon me saying things like “oh my gosh are you kidding me?” “don’t be so stupid” “why do you care?” “you’re perfect” “don’t let them get to you” and my personal favorite “don’t worry about them, they’re just jealous”.  
 
Now, does any of this make me feel better? Nope, it does not.  Am I 5’1 and 95-100 pounds on any given day? Yes, I am.  Am I in good shape? Yes, I am. Do I eat healthy, and feel well? Why yes, since you asked, I do! So why do people consistently put MY body down? Why do we all judge one another bodies based on the "too’s"? Why do we let others view's trickle into and begin to change our own views? 
 
What is “perfect” anyways? 
 
As a society, we are constantly under pressure to be something we are not.  No matter how 'perfect' we are, or strive to be, perfect does not exist. I am constantly ridiculed for being “too skinny”.  Why do we do this to one another? It gets old. While I know I’m healthy, I eat well and exercise regularly, I do not have a problem. So why do so many people take something I strive for, and put a negative connotation on it?  Can you tell me? When folks tell me that I "need to go eat a cheeseburger", should I respond with “maybe you should eat less cheeseburgers”?
 
 No, right? Because I do not know their circumstance, medical history, their healthy or happy place. Because it’s “offensive” to note that someone is overweight and it hurts their feelings. Truth be told, using any of the "too’s "will hurt someones feelings.  Every single one of us has something we are self-conscious about, most likely because of something society has put in our heads. All too often I hear things like, “If I weighed 50 pounds I could hold myself up on my hands too”, “well it would be easy if i didn’t have to hold more weight up than you”, and “Well if I were you, it would be easy”.  Those are just some of my favorites, because what does that mean? Is that logical? I will agree that we are all born to be different sizes, but proportion is something to be thought about as well.  If I am a "too” stick like, then wouldn't I have zero muscle tone? No strength? The muscle that allows me to accomplish yoga poses, run, or even get my groceries upstairs, I work for that.  I don’t think people realize that just because I am small means it just comes easy to me, because it does not.  
 
Again, I am 5’1” and anywhere from 95-100 pounds typically. I am small, but I am healthy. Adding "meat to my bones” may be what someone else wants or prefers, but I love my body where I am.  My body can accomplish amazing things.  I was given this body to use it, not to waste it.  I want to find out what I am capable of.  
 
So here, and now, with my "too" skinny self, I can complete a half marathon about every month, I can go knock out some wicked cool yoga poses, and keep my cool in rough situations.
 
 Why? Because I’m healthy, and I’m "too" HAPPY about this. 
 
Will we ever learn to skip ridiculing others, and work on finding our happy, healthy place in life? How do you feel when someone says you are “too” something? Do you wonder why they’re saying this? Are you concerned that you are not good enough? Do you worry that you do not fit in?
 
Don’t, just don’t. 
 
Society can be a cruel cruel place, take it from me. I’ve got a “dream body” and I’m STILL ridiculed. We all are, but at the end of the day, guess what? YOU are the only one who can decide what you want for your body, and what makes you HAPPY! 
 
Size is NOT a factor, is your body capable of new and exciting things? Are You happy and healthy? If the answer is a resounding 'YES!' Then just go on with life, forget the ridiculers, and remember that someone is ultimately ridiculing them too. 
 
 So what are your "too’s"?  Do you ever stop and think about them? Are they about your body? Can you change these views? If so, how, and why?
 
So be nice, be kind, and when you find yourself thinking about the "too's” for someone else, just imagine them talking about your “too’s”. 
 
#TakeAChanceMakeAChange
 
XXOO,
 
Lay
 
 
PS, there is much more to be said about body image, but I'll tackle one thought at a time! ;)
Hey y’all! So I’ve registered for some totally fun races lately! (Although, I’ve not had anyone reach out about my #ISOEmergencyContact yet!!) I wanted to share a little about this race I’m doing! Except, its not a race, it is a relay! Yes, yes, I’m not the worlds fastest, and we all know I may or may not be a bit too clumsy to pass a baton, BUT this relay is totally different and has so many great benefits that I cannot resist sharing! 
 
 
On May 19, 2016 I will be joining the United Relay of America.  Oh, but you are not in my city you say? Problem solved! This relay will be a part of history as it goes from California & Washington all the way to the Big Apple! Around 9,000 folks will team up and create three legs of relays, in 33 states, for 12,000 unbroken miles, day and night across the United States of America! Thats 1,210 total stages of runners! (Okay SERIOUSLY? How cool is that?) Please do not even tell me you do not want to participate in making history! So Click the link above and check out which of the triple leg route may be coming near you! (Incase anyone is reading my Emergency Contact Blog I’m running the blue leg in Dallas ;) ) I have to apologize, as the kick-off has already begun! So this stretch will be from April 27, 2016 through June 4, 2016. (Oh yes, and you could win a chance to meet Rihanna in NYC!) 
 
Next up beyond making history is Charity. C’mon, do a good deed and #sharegood today! This relay and 100% of its funds raised will be returned to charities for Children's Hospitals across the United States.  We DO want to help better the generations that are to follow us right? (I do!)  Personally, I have a serious LOVE for the City of Boston.  It’s a city after my own heart, so I signed up (as you should), and chose Boston Children’s Hospital as my Charity.  As much as I wish everyone would sign up, I understand that we all cannot sign up. So, if you are unable to join the history making festivities, feel free to donate to the charity I chose for my limb, here:  https://unitedrelay.org/u/profile.asp?u=LacyCourtney I also understand that finances are not the same for everyone, which is fine, but you’re still free to SHARE this message with others, or go support the local runners! Please do not forget, Charity donations are tax write offs ;)
 
Just because the relay has begun does not mean you cannot Find one that suits you! <— Click here! All the cool kids are doing it (ayyyeeee thats me ;) ). Plus I’ve got 30% discounts for you with this link! http://www.unitedrelay.org/?p=30
 
 
Beyond the race itself, Aftershokz partnered up with United Relay of Americato help raise awareness on keeping runners safe. This relay is the perfect example (along with many other fun runs on the rise lately).  This is not a closed course like most.  This relay will take place during all hours and conditions on roadside courses.  IE, as runners we need to be aware of our surroundings to things that are potentially unsafe.  With that being said, Aftershokz has created a bluetooth, wireless, and open eared concept for earphones! (I know how genius) So, these earphones sit in front of your ears with the speakers faced towards your ear, allowing you to actually hear what is going on behind you as well as your speedy jams. OR you know that beautiful specimen of a male coming in hot behind you, because you know you want to check that out. If you don’t tell me, i may gander! ;) Okay, in all seriousness, do not act like you don’t nearly get side swiped by bikers from time to time. Also, they do not have to sit inside your ears, which will help with long run ear soreness inside the ear and ear wax buildup (gross) as well! No wires are so helpful, you have no need to fumble with a wire or have your arm catch your wire as you swing in that beautiful stride of yours! So, you can keep on running trails, roadside, and on tracks with a bit less worry! Essentially, these are made for the sweaty, safety conscious runners. Oh plus you can talk on them, have no fear everyone you call can fully understand you (I know it’s weird that I talk and run, but I do, it helps slow my pace down!) 
 
 
 
Check out this blog post for more info ;)
 
 
 
 
XO,
 
Lay
 
P.S. You do not have to be a “runner” to join the relay, this would help set an attainable goal for you to get in shape for that bikini body you’re working towards this summer! You don’t really have something else you want to do that will benefit you (and others) in multiple ways do ya? 
 
#SweatPink #VivaciouslyLiving #UnitedRelay #Aftershokz
Life... GOSH, it has its ups and downs doesn't it? As a runner, I call them life's hills, as a yogi, I call them negative vibes, and as a Christian, I call them tests of faith. No matter what you (or I) choose to call them, they're difficult to work through.

The past 5-ish years of my dating life, have been a twisting, turning, and unexpected roller-coaster.  Unfortunately, when I get off of the ride it seems like I wind up back in line once again to be the next passenger.

So now, today, on my very first blog post, I am going to say that I am in search of an emergency contact.  You know, when you're single and you sign up for your next big race, you're slightly scared of getting hurt, nervous about what to do in the end when everyone is hugging their loved ones while you pull out your phone and take a picture of yourself? Seem familiar to anyone else? It's essentially the thought that strides around through my mind most often.

I've discovered I love to travel, experience things, explore cities, and learn about the beauty this world holds outside of our little bubbles.  That being said, I've begun traveling to different parts of the country, visiting friends, and doing a big race while I'm there! However, I've never done two races with the same emergency contact. Yes, I realize I can update the back of my BIB, but I don't. #LazyLacy

Now, what do I mean by an emergency contact.  Friend? Boyfriend? Husband? Nope, just a companion, someone to ENJOY the beautiful things in life with in each new city I am in.  I don't particularly have a love for "titles" because I feel as if society has changed what relationships are "meant" to be. So I am looking for someone else who wants to go and explore new cities, maybe check out the local landmarks, coffee bars, breweries, ball parks, and concerts! Here comes the kicker, Christianity is a neccessity, sharing these experiences with someone of Faith is important to me. SO, the following traits are a basic must:
  • CHRISTIAN
  • has teeth and cares about their hygiene (yes I know, but you'd be surprised!)
  • closer to my age than my fathers
  • has aspirations for life, with the determination and worth ethic to see them through

    Okay, Okay, now why did I write a blog post about this? Because, I love my life, I do. However, sometimes I am reminded that we are meant to live in a world of community, and this life is not meant to be experienced alone.  Yes, sometimes it does get lonely when you're near the brink of 30.  Meanwhile everyone else is, well let's just say taken.
    I've learned to love the woman I've become, and find things I am passionate about in life, sometimes I'm just lacking a pace partner. SO with the help of social media, I'm going to go out on a limb.  I'm going to go on a "date", possibly a few, or possibly none at all with someone after a race.  Why a few? Well maybe I really enjoy someone and their company, or the fact that I do not at all, and I simply go out with multiple people after multiple races.  Why none at all? Well dang, maybe nobody wants to go out with me, or maybe I didn't make it well enough known, or maybe I'm too sweaty! Who knows!

    With this being said, if you feel the need to share this to your friends, with people in cities you  know I may be racing in, or even because you find it comical! Help me find an emergency contact! #ISOEmergencyContact
XO,
~Lay